If You’re Injured on a Bike in Minnesota

Resolving insurance and legal issues in a cycling accident

If you’ve been following the proper rules of the road for cyclists in the state and are in an accident, you should be entitled to compensation for damages. But getting it won’t necessarily be easy. In fact, seeking relief from your insurance and/or a lawsuit can be an uphill battle.
“In a large segment of the population that doesn’t ride, there’s a bias and prejudice—even sometimes with law enforcement—that the cyclist is always at fault,” says Randy G. Knutson, an attorney with Knutson+Casey in Mankato who specializes in bicycle accidents. “We get police reports and witnesses that think the bicyclist was at fault, even if they were doing what they were supposed to. A lot of people still think they shouldn’t even be on the road.”
Such misconceptions make an attorney’s job especially hard, but it doesn’t mean they stop pedaling.
If a cyclist has a car that is covered by auto insurance, that insurance will provide no-fault coverage (in most situations) if they’re injured on their bicycle. “So if a car hits you, you’re covered. If you don’t have [auto insurance], then it goes to the other car’s insurance. If they don’t have it, it goes to the state,” Knutson explains.
No-fault insurance provides $20,000 of medical coverage (at minimum) and $20,000 in wage loss coverage. Even without coverage, a cyclist may still make a no fault and bodily injury claim against the driver at fault.
Most of Knutson’s cases involve a bike being hit in an intersection where a vehicle driver claims they didn’t see them. Occasionally, though, he encounters cases where the bike is at least partially at fault. “We’ve had cases where our client ran into the back of a vehicle—a pretty common one. If the bicycle is at fault, then the bicyclist’s homeowners’ insurance can cover the car damage,” he adds.
Bicycle damage, on the other hand, has some interesting nuances. “A lot of bikes are carbon, and you can’t tell if it’s cracked, so a lot of times you question if the fork is damaged,” explains Knutson, who’s also the Minnesota representative at BikeLaw.com. “You don’t want to ride on a cracked fork—you could be going 30 down a hill and that’s the end of you—and though it’s expensive to have them X-rayed, some places do it. Most of my clients seek to have the fork replaced and there’s a fight with the insurance company.”
Fortunately, bicycle shops are often in your corner, Knutson says. “If they’re asked about it by the insurance company, they’ll usually stand up for the bicyclist and say, ‘No one should ride on a possibly damaged frame.’ While the insurance companies have a lot of appraisers for cars, they don’t know what to do in lots of bicycle cases.”
Depending on your accident, it may be worth filing a lawsuit. In any event, it can’t hurt to contact an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer. Consultations are typically free, and involve the firm asking you a series of questions to determine if they believe you have a case.
Sometimes it’s worth pursuing even if you feel your injuries are minor, because things may be more severe than you think or become worse over time. “There’s an assumption that, if a bicyclist is hurt, they had to be going fast, but the force of a car going 10 miles per hour can do a lot of damage,” Knutson notes.

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